Friday, 9 February 2018

Wellbeing Project 6 - Managing Stress

Look after your light so you can burn bright

Being stressed causes us to release cortisol that has been described as ‘public health enemy number one’. While some stress can be good for motivating us, chronic stress is associated with inhibiting learning and memory, lowering immune function, weight gain, increase in blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease, as well as depression and mental illness. 

After realising I had been suffering from burn out, I had been focussing on work-life balance and nurturing my wellbeing for months. It was therefore caught off guard when I found myself feeling stressed recently.  

Without realising it, I had got back into old habits and it brought back old experiences that I thought I had let go. What I learned is that we always have to be mindful. It turns out I still struggle to deal with pressure (in this case a huge to-do list) when I don’t follow my morning routine and I don’t get enough sleep.

I’ve posted before about the peripheral vision technique I use to create focus and concentration and get into a peak state, When I don’t do it I end up starting lots of tasks as I’m distracted by the next task that pops into my head - especially if I’m on the computer and the social media alerts and emails are popping up. 

This morning it led me to create a stressful situation for myself. I was feeling overwhelmed by a to-do list that would take all week and I got into an old thought pattern of worrying that I don’t have enough time. And then the unhelpful self-talk started.

Stress is our reaction to pressure. Pressure is created by outside influence and demands, but it is what goes on in our head that creates the stress. We create an internal narrative about an event in the future, an event that hasn’t happened and is therefore not real. And if it’s not real we can change it.

I put into practice some of the techniques we teach for managing our resilience:

  • I remembered to breathe. Just the act of focussing on our breathing brings us back to now and away from the imagined event. I sat down and did that for about 3 minutes.
  • It allowed me to acknowledge the feeling of stress. Accepting that feeling meant I was listening to my body, I could let it go and I could change something. 
  • I changed my negative self talk to how I would speak to my best friend in that situation, kind words and tone with compassion and helpful advice.
  • I reframed my sentences taking out the must/should words that create negativity and a sense of loss of control and instead I focussed on the choices I had.
  • I asked myself what was the worst thing that could happen.
  • I asked myself what was the mostly likely outcome in the situation.
  • I asked myself what was the most important task on my list so that I could prioritise by urgency and importance.

And I told myself that there is time. And that became my mantra for the day. I got to where I needed to go without the drama, with hard work and focus, compassion and being my own inner cheerleader.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Wellbeing Project 5 - change your mindset and lose weight

Willpower is a piece of cake

Losing weight is a complex issue. Like so many people, I have done fad diets all my life. They used to be just to drop 10 pounds at the most, however, when I met my partner I chunked on the weight. It was only when I got him to do the diet with me and picked a programme that he liked that I started to turn it around. The weight has come off slowly (which is a good thing).

In May I used an NLP technique called 'Swish' to change my thought pattern around cakes. I used to work in an office of 'feeders' who brought in these amazing cakes and they would very kindly leave them right by the coffee supplies. Banana cake, chocolate cake, Victoria sponge - an unending array of amazing cakes. However, the problem was I was often tired and every time I went to make a cup of coffee as a pick-me-up I would look at the cake and think 'that will make me feel better'. In reality, I might have got a quick sugar high, but that was followed by an energy low and over time I was starting to put back on the weight I had lost.

So I changed that thought to 'maybe later'. What happened? I never ended up going back for the piece of cake because I wasn't actually hungry and I dropped 7 pounds over a couple of months. In the long term, I've lost interest in cake. In fact I was caught describing them as 'pretty' when I went into a coffee shop recently. Pretty? Really?

What happened was I wasn't fighting with my willpower anymore. Unlike my partner who fights against his desire for sweet things constantly. He asked me this morning to guinea pig all the NLP techniques we have to help change his relationship with food. In honour of National Obesity Week, we are starting tomorrow with a coaching session to determine the underlying problems facing him when it comes to food so that we can work out how to change his mindset. Check out our updates on Facebook.

The diet and fitness industries are multi-million dollar businesses and statistically people will give up on their new year resolution by the end of January or beginning of February. Essentially because they have not addressed their mindset.

If you would like 2018 to be different, we'd like to help. First, download our self-coaching activity from the last blog to make sure you have written your goal in a compelling way that will help you achieve it.

Then think about how you would like to change your relationship with food. Is there something you crave constantly that you wish you didn't? Do you have an eating habit that you'd like to change? Do you see food as a reward? Let us know what you'd like to change and we'll tell you how NLP can help.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Wellbeing Project 4 - goal setting

Small changes, big benefits for 2018

I don’t set much store in new year resolutions - generally they’re about as meaningful as the targets you choose for your performance management at work - what you think you should do and pleasing others. But I do always set myself goals and evaluate where I’m at as I go through the year. 

I usually have a big goal, but I’ve also learned that it’s the small changes that matter so this year I have chosen some small behaviours to change in addition to bigger goals, a continuation of my wellbeing journey I started in September. 

I have five goals that should improve my productivity and therefore efficiency and therefore happiness. I will write them all as well-formed outcomes after doing a self-coaching activity to make sure they happen.
  1. Apply mindful practice to my everyday life - course booked to understand more clearly the benefits in addition to using NLP. It also feeds into my love of learning.
  1. Write a clear business plan - business coaching session booked. You might ask yourself why I would go to a coach if I am a coach. Quite simply, coaches ask you the difficult questions, challenge your thinking and make you dig deep.
  1. Fix my evening routine - I’ve worked out that when I struggle to do my morning routine, it’s when I haven’t got to bed ‘on time’. I’ve been trying to have a decent night’s sleep as research has shown how important sleep is to our wellbeing, but I can’t seem to break my night owl habits. My self talk is ‘I’ll just finish this, oh and I might as well do that’ and before I know it, it’s after midnight. 
  1. Drink water at regular intervals during the day. I have developed a bad habit over many years of teaching of hardly drinking from when I get up in the morning to when I sit down for dinner at night. The brain needs water to function so this is not a very clever approach. I’ve found an app - Absorb Water - that I’m looking at as it looks at your total water intake including through fruit etc.
  1. And finally walking - just 10 minutes a day to nurture my fitness and concentration. I love walking so how difficult can it be to add 10 minutes or so into my daily routine? Well, it’s been on my to-do list forever so what’s the problem? I know I think, ‘I’ll just do this first’, or ‘this task is more important.’ (Have you noticed a pattern here?) So I could simply change my self-talk through Swish technique.
These are all important changes to me. Not changes for anyone else. I know the last three are small changes but I will still struggle and will use NLP techniques to help me change these old behaviours to ones that are more helpful for me now. Techniques like be your own guru and the new behaviour generator.

What small changes would you like to make to 
reap big benefits this year?

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Wellbeing Project 3 - being kind to yourself

Take Time to Be Kind

Acts of kindness have been shown to boost our happiness and therefore to improve our wellbeing. Given it’s the time of goodwill, we should all be very happy in December. 

Last week started with a tweet of Action for Happiness’s Kindness Calendar - a suggestion for each day in December, eg a kind note, donation to a charity helping the homeless, counting how many people you smile at in a day. Fabulous idea and we retweeted it as well as putting the ideas into practice.

At my Mindful Mondays session, I was reminded that we can sometimes be so busy giving to others that we end up making ourselves stressed rather than happy. Why is that? Often because we forget to be kind to ourselves. 

In NLP we have strategies to be kind to ourselves: 

  • we build anchors that we can use to give ourselves positive emotions whenever we need them, 
  • we learn to reframe how we view events to see them in ways that are more compassionate to ourselves, and 
  • we learn to change our negative self-talk - to turn the voice down, change the voice to one that might make us laugh or relax more. 

I changed the voice of my self-talk some while ago from a nagging voice to one that is kinder, yet urgent and practical. This works for me because my negative self talk is triggered by stress. In a timely reminder, I caught myself saying unkind things to myself when I let my stress levels build up and then something went wrong. Perhaps you can relate to those blaming and unhelpful comments that actually if you put yourself on the outside of your head are hurtful because you would never say them to someone else. 

I was able to quickly soften the voice, reframe the comments to ones that were more supportive by focussing on what I could do now - what I actually wanted to happen - rather than focussing on what had gone wrong. And remind myself of what I had got right. 

So be kind to yourself this Christmas. Listen to Anna's advice to prepare for the emotional challenges of Christmas. Just remember we are all doing the best we can with the resources we have available. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Wellbeing Project 2 - morning routines

Setting myself up for success

After reading blogs from life hacks and talking to other professionals, I decided that the first thing I needed to do to improve my wellbeing was to improve my morning routine. The consensus seemed to be that a good morning routine improves wellbeing and improves productivity, both of which were important to me. 

The problem was I associated ‘routine’ with killing creativity and essentially being boring. However, I needed to have a way to ensure I could focus and discipline myself to get on with my work now I was working from home; in addition, I wanted to introduce things into my life that would make me feel better. I already took Korean Ginseng and Gingko Biloba every morning and had a healthy breakfast of blueberries, greek yoghurt and flaxseed all of which was designed to improve my concentration but I wanted to add something more.  

As a starting point, I experimented with meditation as mindfulness is widely advocated as a wellbeing and productivity tool. I found an app to follow but couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I didn’t have enough time - I felt I was being pulled away from my work which defeated the object of the whole exercise. However, I did find that a short burst was really helpful. 

I also found that the NLP peripheral vision technique that I had been practising for improving my listening skills was helpful for building my general concentration as well as for getting me ‘in the zone’ at the beginning of the day. It was particularly useful if I was feeling a bit scatty and jumping from one task to another because I had too much to do.  

One particularly scatty morning,  I started off with the peripheral vision only to switch to meditation part way through which focussed me again and I went back to finish the peripheral vision exercise. And there I had it - my own concoction for success - combine the two by putting a brief one-minute meditation exercise in the middle. 

I also decided to use my positive anchor I had created a few years earlier each morning. Previously, I had used it when feeling aggravated and needing to change my mood to go to teach or go into a meeting. Now triggering it every morning at the end of my focussing exercises means I start my day off feeling on top of the world and I accomplish lots. 

Of course, I’ve found I don’t do all of this every morning, just most of it most mornings. I have read lots of other advice that I sometimes follow to add variety and have included it in a Free to Be routine

View and/or download the routine here!

What routines do you find help you have a great day? And how do they help? I would love to add the best of them to our routine.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Wellbeing Project 1 - using NLP to be happy

In the race to be happy

Striving for wellbeing, I researched what other people, friends, therapists, journalists, hacks and scientists were recommending for us all in our quest for a work-life balance. I read a wide range of topics from sleep to exercise, from positivity to productivity, from teas to books. As part of that research I ordered the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. As I read it, I realised I had been taking a similar journey only I considered mine The Wellbeing Project.  

The book captures many of the themes and techniques we teach on our NLP courses, including the role of the unconscious mind in our behaviour choices, so I was engrossed from the start.

A presupposition of NLP is respect for the other person’s map of the world. Because we have different belief systems, there isn’t a ‘right way’. Our experiences and our beliefs impact on how we react to a situation or what we want. For example, we will all have a different version of happiness and this is Gretchen’s exploration of how she could be even happier - her version of happy.

What matters is if our definition of happiness is the right one for us and are if we are going the right way about achieving it. Sometimes we have forgotten to update our values as we have had more life experiences and changed since we first created that value. We need to review our values as beliefs as we journey through life and take time to reflect. 

I love Gretchen’s 12 commandments, especially No. 1 “Be Gretchen”. We can all benefit from being true to ourself - being congruent. 

“People can boost themselves up to the top of their happiness range or push themselves down to the bottom of their happiness range by their actions”. In NLP we say ‘energy flows where focus goes’ as our physiology and state affect our internal representations and our filters. So if we change our behaviours and create a way of being through a positive mindset then we will be happier. 

Even more astounding, Gretchen found out that 30-40% of our ‘happiness’ is determined by how we think or act rather than genetics or environment. What a difference you can make to your wellbeing if you choose. No wonder NLP has changed my world! 

What do you do to positively influence that 30-40% of your wellbeing?

Wellbeing Project 6 - Managing Stress

Look after your light so you can burn bright Being stressed causes us to release cortisol that has been described as ‘public health ene...